No. 14 Pittsburgh, 1982, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County, Criminal Division, at No. 388 Criminal, 1981
Charles S. Hersh, Assistant District Attorney, Hermitage, for Commonwealth, appellant.
Charles F. Gilchrest, Sharon, for appellee.
Brosky, Johnson and Montgomery, JJ.
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This is an appeal from the order of the lower court granting in part appellee's motions to suppress physical
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evidence and certain statements on the basis of its finding of an unlawful warrantless search.*fn1 Appellant, the Commonwealth, contends that the search was lawful in that consent to search was given and because exigent circumstances were present. We agree that exigent circumstances existed and reverse the order of the court below.*fn2
On July 12, 1981, at about 12:40 a.m., Troopers James Dibler and John Balaska of the Pennsylvania State Police were on patrol when they received a radio message directing them to go to the Campbell residence concerning a shooting incident. The officers drove to that residence, arriving there at about 1 a.m.
There, they spoke with two witnesses, Dale and Brad McFarland, who told the officers they had been at the scene of a recent shooting. The witnesses told the troopers that earlier that evening, they had been riding in a truck driven by Brian McFarland and occupied by two other passengers. They stated that just as the truck passed appellee's residence, the driver was shot in the shoulder by a rifle. This occurred at about 12:20 a.m. The witnesses told the troopers that the victim had already been taken to the hospital. The officers also learned from the witnesses that appellee had a reputation for violence toward passing motorists (e.g., shooting at snowmobiles, threatening motorcyclists with an axe, and swinging a snowplow at a snowmobile). This information was corroborated by a local police officer who arrived to aid in the investigation. An investigation of the truck revealed that two shots had struck the vehicle, one
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broke a rear window and hit Brian McFarland, the other hit the truck's tailgate. Trooper Dibler concluded from his observations that the weapon used was a .243 caliber rifle.
The troopers then went to interview another witness who lived about one-half mile from appellee. This witness, Simon Summers, told the troopers that he heard the victim's truck proceed up the road in the area of appellee's residence and ...